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Bruntwood SciTech Exec Chair Reaction To Budget and Spending Review - October 2021

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Alderley Park lab space

“Today’s Budget and Comprehensive Spending Review by the Chancellor is welcomed for its continued emphasis on investment into the UK’s innovative, highly skilled economy, outlining new initiatives for investment, job creation and talent attraction. 

“We’re buoyed by the government’s commitment to meet the full cost of associating with Horizon Europe, the increase in Innovate UK’s budget to £1 billion and the £800 million for the new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) to stimulate innovation.

“We hope that the new £1.4bn ‘Global Britain Investment Fund’ announced today will encourage international companies to invest in the UK’s critical and most innovative industries, including the life sciences and automotive sector which are at the forefront of opportunities for the UK in economic growth prosperity and Levelling Up. But the government needs to ensure the Fund is focussed on helping plug the gaps in regional investment too, alongside the £4.8bn local government grant funding.

“The government has long promised to increase R&D funding to £22bn by the end of this parliament and although today’s Budget maintains the target it is disappointing that its delivery will be delayed by two years. 

“The addition to R&D tax relief which will see combined total public investment in R&D increasing from 0.7% of GDP in 2018 to 1.1% by the end of this parliament; the inclusion of cloud computing and data spending within this relief, and refocusing relief by April 2023 to incentivise greater domestic investment is certainly progress well made if the UK is to compete with the likes of the USA and Germany, but the delay in the promised investment will have a knock on effect in creating more high value jobs in life sciences and increased GVA in the short and medium term.

“While the Treasury needs to find ways to balance the books after an unprecedented period of public spending, the delay reduces the opportunities for life sciences businesses to capitalise on the growth gains made over the past 18 months. Greater clarity is also required to understand how the government is going to ensure R&D and growth capital is more evenly distributed around the UK. Over 45% of private equity and venture capital investment into the sector over the last 12 months has been into London and the South East, a balance that needs to be redressed if the country is to truly level up.

“It was pleasing to hear the Chancellor refer to the Net Zero strategy being an innovation strategy and we firmly agree. Our own research released this week illustrates this; the UK’s transition to Net Zero will create more jobs in the science and technology sector than any other industry, delivering 65% of all roles by 2050 and £35bn to UK GVA. 

“The new Scale-Up Visa, launching in Spring next year, I know will be welcomed by our fastest growing life sciences and tech businesses and enable them to access much-needed highly skilled, world-class talent faster, as demand for talent continues to outstrip supply. The Multiply programme and £3.8bn investment in skills will also contribute as a stepping stone to readdressing our homegrown talent pipeline, and we would be keen to work with the government on other initiatives that can help to address this talent shortage. We are creating hubs such as a vocational training centre committed to the rapid upskilling and retraining of local young people and those from disadvantaged backgrounds, focused on the specialist technical skills associated with low carbon technologies and innovation and would be keen to see further investment in areas like this as part of the economic recovery and future-proofing the talent pipeline for the innovation sectors which are in such high demand.

“The Global Business Mobility visa will provide an additional incentive for international businesses to expand and establish their presence in the UK, something which several global science and tech businesses we work with have felt has been lacking as part of their decision making to set up a European or Global hub in the UK.”

Chris Oglesby, Executive Chair, Bruntwood SciTech

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